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I am not afraid to say what I am about to say. As a trade unionist I have a responsibility to represent employees called to work in any environment where the conditions of work are set knowingly to militate against their well-being and survival. So today I shall speak, for I will not sit idly by and sanction any effort by this particular regime to officially put our children’s life in dangers way from the assignment given to them.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has over the years displayed no sense of nationalism. Look what they did to our national motto, look what they have done to the name of our country. In dropping “cooperative” from the name of the country, they tried to destroy the economic development and growth of all because it was created under another government. Their petty politics did not imbue them with the consciousness of nation state and sovereignty. All the national songs they stopped singing and took out of the schools, leaving our children to be raised rudderless and without a sense of nationhood.
PPP leaders told their children and supporters not to meaningfully participate as citizens in Guyana’s defence and developmental strategies because they had no vision, no understanding of all that it takes to safeguard national sovereignty and protect the land. When the University of Guyana instituted National Service, the PPP told their children the People’s National Congress (PNC) government and black men would violate their daughters.
They undermined this country’s trajectory.
For me, to countenance our soldiers preparing to go to war is difficult. Not for an uncaring government, not for a government that has no value for the lives of our military men and women, not for a government that for years claim the Forbes Burnham and Desmond Hoyte governments prevented East Indians from going into the military, not for a government that undermined successive PNC government’s efforts on the border issue.
During the 2015 National and Regional Elections campaign, Bharrat Jagdeo did not think twice, yelling from the podium, describing men and women in uniform as people who will kick down the door of PPP supporters and do them harm if the A Partnership of National Unity +Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition was elected. African Guyanese, opposition supporters and the armed forces, who are mostly African Guyanese, cannot trust the PPP. And they don’t want promises.
In 2019, during the post no-confidence vote, the PPP leadership was on the Essequibo Coast goading supporters to call on Venezuela to take Essequibo and relieve them from the coalition government. In 2023 the leaders returned to Essequibo and called on supporters to join them to repel Venezuela.
It is important to note the PPP leadership is transactional in whatever they do and have encouraged their supporters to think and behave likewise. The PPP never taught its supporters how to be nationalistic, value nation building and national unity; the leadership was teaching persons how to slander a government, a race, and bring a government down.
In 2023 Jagdeo and Irfaan Ali want our men and women in uniform to defend the borders when Jagdeo was prepared to give away part of our maritime zone to Venezuela. Geographically Venezuela is just like Guyana, on the tip of South America. We must continue to question why he would want to give Venezuela access to the sea when Venezuela has a whole coastal front to the Atlantic Ocean.
This is not an anti-East Indian position; this is about a recognition of what the PPP has done to Guyana and holding its leadership accountable. This issue is about power and control for the PPP, but the military must see it differently.
Our men and women in uniform have sworn to uphold the law and defend this nation from adversaries, internal and external. This does not mean one must throw caution, workplace safety and better working conditions to the wind in the discharge of duties. Our disciplined services workers must demand the leadership of the armed forces address improvement in their conditions of employment, forthwith. Resources must be allocated to re-capitalise the armed services consistent with 21st century reality and external threat (s).
The Jagdeo/Ali regime must also put in place a foreign ministry and diplomatic mission capable of delivering on the diplomatic front, and cease using the international missions to do partisan political work. Our armed forces are not equipped nor have the capacity, presently, to engage in physical battle. The PPP must find every diplomatic, legal/judicial and other strategic ways to repel Venezuela.